Friday, May 30, 2014

Monologue Mania Day # 107 by Janet S. Tiger 1352 Sabbaths (c) May 30, 2014

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Monologue Mania Day # 107 by Janet S. Tiger 1352 Sabbaths  (c) May 30, 2014

                                              1352 Sabbaths
                                                by Janet S. Tiger   
                                     c) May 27, 2014     all rights reserved

            (A man comes onstage.  He is young, but walks like an old man, and is wearing a yarmulke.  He carries two candlesticks that he puts onto a table.  He has a slight Polish accent.)

Welcome!  I'm so glad you could join me.

Tonight is a special night.  Tonight is the Sabbath.

Friday night, the seventh day.  God rested.

And so should we.

Twenty-six years of Sabbaths I spent in my home in Ozerov.....I was born in the middle of World War I, on Oct. 22nd, 1916, and the thirteen hundred fifty two Sabbaths I spent in Ozerov ended during World War II, when I was deported with most of the Jewish population on my 26th birthday, Oct. 22, 1942.

In the camps, I figured out that 26 years of Sabbaths was 1352 Sabbaths.  One does strange things to pass the time when you know that every minute could be your last.   I used to try to remember the Sabbaths I had spent with my family.  I had no way of recalling the earliest, but I had been told that my first Sabbath was special, that many family members had traveled far, as I was the first boy born into my father’s family in two generations.

First Sabbath.  I could remember many of the Sabbaths, the smells of the challah and the chicken cooking.  When things had gone well at the market, sometimes a roast.  But always some delicious pastry for the end of the meal.  And I could taste the love in the house.  Of course, there were the arguments, too – had we washed our hands, not to bump the table or else the wine would spill, was my sister too friendly with one of the workers in my father’s booth…….

My birthday in 1942 fell the day before Sabbath, on a Thursday.  The day we were taken away on the trains to our deaths.  Most of us.  Of the Jewish portion of Ozerov, I was one of a few dozen survivors.

We celebrated Sabbath on the train, as best we could.  A rabbi said the prayers when someone said they saw the first star through cracks in the boards.

No lighting candles, no challah, no wine…no food or water.  Just the prayers.  And yet I remember that Sabbath as clearly as if it was yesterday.

            (He takes candles from his pockets and puts them into the candlesticks.)

Usually, it is the woman of the house who lights the candles and says the prayers.  But my wife is long gone, so I do this when I am not at one of my grandchildren’s houses.  Usually I am there, but sometimes, I like to be in my own home.  They tell me that’s normal for a survivor,  even after many years of freedom, we  still crave moments of independence, of control.

            (He takes out a match and lights the candles, saying the prayer quietly.)

These candlesticks are the only thing I have left from that time.

They were buried by my mother at the grave of her grandmother, one of the few remaining Jewish cemeteries in Poland, the Sunday before we were deported.  I was with her that day, and as she covered filled the hole with dirt, she told me that one day we would come back and claim them.

After the war, I was the only surviving member of my family, and I went to the United States, not wanting to return to Ozerov to see the ghosts of my previous life.

I married, and had a family, like most of the survivors did.  And I did well for myself, in business, in family.  I was lucky.

One day, after the Communist regimes fell, I had the strangest urge to……go home.  In a strange way, where you are born will always be a home, and Ozerov was mine.  So, with you, my grandchildren, I returned.  For your friends here tonight, it must seem strange.  They have all been born and raised in this sunshine of freedom, but to return to Ozerov, that was different.  We came to the Jewish section, and, of course, there were no Jews anymore, not living ones, at least.  And we went to the cemetery.

Many of the graves had been robbed and desecrated, but not my grandmother’s.  With a small hand tool, we dug around the headstone, and…….no candlesticks.

We dug on the other side, at the foot.  No candlesticks. All these years, had I remembered it correctly?

As it was beginning to get dark, we decided, ganug, enough, and put the earth back in place.

Just as we turned to leave, a woman approached.  She was older, and we had seen her when we entered.

She greeted us oddly, as we knew by the cross around her neck that she was not Jewish.

‘Good Shabbas,’ she said, and when we looked surprised, she asked what we were doing in Ozerov.  When we told her, she explained she knew we were coming, and she wanted to be sure who we were before she spoke to us.

Then she took out a large package, wrapped in paper and string and handed it to me.

‘I saw your mother bury this many years ago,’ she told us, ‘and I knew the paper would not protect anything for long, so I dug it up to save for her.  Your mother was a good woman, she and your father were always fair to us at the market, not like some of the others, who were thieves…’

She spit at the thought.
‘So here it is, may she know that I kept these safe, hidden from the Nazis, then the crazy people after the war, then the Communists……please say a prayer for me when you light them.’

We stayed in contact with her until her death, and now that I approach my 5000th Sabbath, I say a prayer for all those who perished, and all those who survived, and those who helped.

You are probably wondering, how do I look so young, when I am almost 100 years old?  The secret is that on the Sabbath, everyone has a chance to be young, because ......although the Sabbath is the end of the week, at the end of the Sabbath, it is the beginning .....of a new week.  

Shabbat Shalom…….

            (He bows his head, turns to leave, looks back)

And many more.

            (He exits.)

Janet S. Tiger    858-274-9678
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983
Swedenborg Hall 2006-8

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